Monday, October 26, 2015

William McIntosh Jr 1778-1825

McIntosh and Menawa

Real history is always more complex and multilayered than the history told by the modern media and even in most basic academic history books.  The relationship between the Scots-Irish and certain Indian tribes was complex.  The often were are war with one another, yet they also intermarried, made alliances, and lived together and shared the same values;  Clan, tradition, blood, a warrior culture, honour, were of paramount importance to both peoples.

William McIntosh Jr. 1778-1825


William McIntosh Jr. 1778-1825, also known as Tustunnuggee Hutkee (White Warrior), was born around 1778 in the Lower Creek town of Coweta to Captain William McIntosh, a Scotsman of Savannah, and Senoya, a Creek woman of the Wind Clan. He was raised among the Creeks, but he spent enough time in Savannah to become fluent in English and to move comfortably within both Indian and white societies.

He was a leader of the Lower Towns, the Creek who were adapting European-American ways and tools to incorporate into their culture. He became a planter who owned slaves and also had a ferry business. McIntosh was among those who supported the plans of U.S. Indian agent Benjamin Hawkins to "civilize" the Creeks. While McIntosh's support of white civilization efforts earned him the respect of U.S. officials, more traditional Creeks regarded him with distrust and contempt.

He was instrumental in the United States victory at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend. In the wake of that war, the Creeks suffered famine and deprivation for many years.  In 1825 cousins William McIntosh, a Creek leader, and George Troup, the governor of Georgia, signed the Treaty of Indian Springs, which authorized the sale of Creek lands in the state to the federal government. McIntosh allied himself with Indian agent David B. Mitchell, Hawkins's successor, to coordinate the distribution of food and supplies from the U.S. government to the Creeks. This alliance assured McIntosh's control over resources and he became a very wealthy man.

In 1821 the new Indian agent severed McIntosh's access to resources, weakening McIntosh's influence among the Creeks, who were then compelled to sell some of their land to pay debts and acquire food and supplies. However, for his role in the Treaty of Indian Springs, McIntosh received 1,000 acres of land at Indian Springs and another 640 acres on the Ocmulgee River. He himself owned two plantations with slaves, Lockchau Talofau (Acorn Bluff) in present-day Carroll County, and Indian Springs, in present-day Butts County.

McIntosh's participation in the 1825 Treaty of Indian Springs cost him his life. According to a Creek law that McIntosh himself had supported, a sentence of execution awaited any Creek leader who ceded land to the United States without the full assent of the entire Creek Nation. Just before dawn on April 30, 1825, Upper Creek Chief Menawa, accompanied by a large force over 100 Creek “Law Menders” (warriors), attacked McIntosh at Lockchau Talofau (McIntosh’s home and plantation overlooking the Chattahoochee River near Whitesburg, worked by 72 slaves and also served as a tavern and inn, owing to its location on the Federal Road and a strategic crossing of the river) to carry out the sentence.

They set fire to an outbuilding in order to light up the yard so as to prevent anyone from escaping. They called to the white guests and women to come out, saying they would come to no harm. McIntosh's son Chilly and another mixed-blood escaped from an outbuilding they were sleeping in because there wasn't room for everybody in the main house.

Shot in the front doorway of his home, McIntosh managed to climb the stairs to the second floor, from which he began shooting at his assailants. Forced to leave when they set fire to the house, he was shot and dragged some distance from the house. Raising himself on an elbow, he gave them a defiant look as he was stabbed in the heart. An eyewitness estimated that his corpse was shot about 50 times. After destroying what they could not carry away; slaves, horses, and cattle, produce, the assassins left.

Later that day they caught Samuel and Benjamin Hawkins, his sons-in-law and also signatories to the treaty. They hanged Samuel and shot Benjamin, but he escaped.


Menawa (1765-1836), was second in command of the Red Sticks at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in 1814, when they were defeated by General Andrew Jackson commanding militias of Tennessee, Georgia and the Mississippi Territory, as well as allied Cherokee. More than 800 Red Stick warriors died. Menawa was wounded seven times during the battle, but he escaped and survived his wounds. By his own account he lay among the dead until nightfall and then crawled to the river, climbed into a canoe, and disappeared into the darkness.

Some major Creek chiefs passed a resolution to kill McIntosh, and Menawa headed the assassination party. McIntosh was surrounded at his tavern on the old Federal Road in Georgia and shot to death.
By 1836 the Creek Indians had been repressed and were defeated a second time trying to save their ancestral lands. The U.S. was planning a general removal of the Nation. Menawa proposed that the Creek Nation give up their collective rights, though each individual who wanted to remain be given a plot of land. This proposal was defeated and the removal was commanded. Menawa had been given an exclusion from relocating by the U.S. but a local judge ordered him to join the exiles to the west.
Menawa reportedly stayed up all the night watching sunset and sunrise over his home Oakfuskee (located on the Tallapoosa River in present-day Alabama). As he joined his people traveling to an unknown place he said, "Last evening I saw the sun set for the last time and its light shine on the treetops and the land and the water, that I am never to look upon again."

Heartbroken, Menawa died on his way to the new Creek territory in the west. His burial place is now unknown. Menawa was not only brave and skillful, but was a gentleman in appearance and manners. Although he was a savage in the field, or in the revel, he could at any moment assume the dignity and courtesy proper to his high station. In after years, he regretted his role with the Creek Law Menders in 1825, saying that he would freely lay down his life, if by; so doing, he could bring back to life Billy McIntosh.

(credit:  John Stewart Longhunter Facebook page)

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